Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Lost Worlds

No, the title doesn't refer to Spielbergian dinosaurs but rather to the very opposite -- to the ways in which our gardens can in the best sense swallow time and encourage us to lose ourselves in their tranquility. By a bit of magic, we can "close the door" on the outside world and let ourselves wander within the invisible walls of the garden. Apart from the transparent joys of immersing ourselves in a creation of our own making, the garden is a shelter, a place to fully relax and quiet our minds. It's not uncommon for me, as it happened today, to come in from a morning session and be "shocked" to find it's two pm not noon. I usually laugh at myself, knowing how often it has happened before. For those of us living in cities with full time jobs, this escape into the 'lost world' is even more important.
Of course it's especially nice when this time corresponds with getting things done in the garden, even if that's as simple as some weeding, fertilizing and a bit of trimming. And sometimes, one acquires energy to tackle a long delayed project.
I always allot time each week to take note of what is new in my garden and to take photos. Although the photos have a practical use, sometimes used in one of my columns or posted here, I would take them anyway, as they offer a visual journal of my garden through the years. I encourage everyone to do so, even if you only use the camera in your phone. There is no substitute for experiencing the first opening of a flower but photos offer their own beauty and you have those images for time immorial.
So that's a good segue to a new batch of photos from my garden, taken on this glorious Oakland morning. As I type, a male and female hooded oriole are coming to a kitchen window hummingbird feeder for a sip of nectar.


Arisaema speciosum var. magnificum. I do appreciate that not everyone finds Jack-in-the-Pulpits beautiful or interesting but I find them to be both. This is one of the prettier ones, with the deep wine spathe marked with white ribs. 


This may look like a little Campanula flower but in fact it's a Brodiaea laxa 'Fabiola Queen.' Brodiaeas are CA native bulbs that like part sun/part shade and typically bloom around this time of year. The colors range from whites to blues to lavender shades. Simple but pretty.


A part of my "Golden Corner" leading into the back yard, this Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee' is one of the loveliest of all hummingbird mints. This species, with its anise scent, is also called Anise Hyssop. Beautiful foliage, pretty flowers and fragrant. What's not to love?


I call my Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue' "old faithful." It returns every year, full and bursting with true blue flowerheads. In fact I usually have to prune it during the growing season as it wants to overrun everything close to it.


Here's my tropical corner, circa June 5th. That's an Hydrangea quercifolia on the left, in the front are shoots of Red Ginger (Hedychium greenii), hiding a bit to the right is a red banana and in the back is a black bamboo. Underneath the Oakleaf hydrangea is a Hedychium gardnerianum.


Rhodochiton. This delicate climber with the curious burgundy flowers is called Purple Bell Vine, though I'm not sure how the open-face nodding flowers can be thought of as bells. Still, it's one of the prettiest small vines you'll ever grow.


Corydalis 'Chine Blue.' After almost killing this herbaceous shade loving perennial (letting it dry out in the pot), I finally got it in the ground and six months later it's rewarding me with lovely and delicate blue flowers. I liken them to seahorses. However you 'see' them there's no denying their exquisite robin's egg blue color.


That's a Begonia boliviensis in the hanging basket and the charming Canary Creeper nasturtium that's taken over the lattice. A nice color combo.


If this foxglove looks a little different, it is. It's Digitalis 'Pantaloons' and the sides are split, giving it that "familiar but different" look. It also has the virtue of producing straight and sturdy flower spikes.


Schizostylis coccinea. This so-called Kaffir lily is a summer and fall bloomer. Vigorous, some don't plant it in the ground as it may self-seed everywhere (hello, crocosmia). It has a "waiting-for-a-joke" name. (As in "I can't figure this plant. One day it does this thing and the next something completely opposite." Well, what can you expect from a Schizo-stylis?


Here's my Dicentra scandens slowly taking over the world. Well, okay just the east wall next to the mailbox, but I have to keep cutting it back. In front is a red Salpiglossis, trying to fight off the army of yellow bleeding hearts.


For you blue lovers out there, how about this royal blue flowering Lupinus pilosus? Add to that color, the shimmering, silver-edged leaves and it gets an 'A' from this teacher.


Cuphea llavea 'Vienco 'Burgundy.' Despite its la-de-da name (Vienco? Come on!), this is another tough and vigorous Cuphea member. It sports pinwheel shaped flowers, not the "bat faces" of some of the other llaveas. One of my favorite plants in the garden.


Caryopteris 'Hint of Gold' and 'friend.' I thought this single purple petunia looked particularly fine against the golden foliage of the caryopteris. 


Fans of arums will regonize this leaf. In this case it belongs to the ominous sounding Voodoo lily, Sauromatum venosum. It has the mottled stem of many arum members and a dark purple spathe that is quite a sight to behold. Despite it being unusual, like many arums it is very vigorous.


One look at this striking flower and you may think "I know this flower but can't put my finger on it." It's a Mimulus cardinalis, only not with the red flowers of the straight species. This one is Santa Cruz Island Gold (Santa Cruz Island is part of the Channel Islands just south of Santa Barbara). I love the color here, sort of a golden orange, plus there's the throat markings for additional appeal.


Here's the front yard driveway, now taken over by potted plants. 


The plant with the big leaves in the foreground is a Datura Blackcurrant Swirl. It has the blackest stems and then swirled double flowers with the richest purples. Behind it is a Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' so I've got my "fruit salad" ready.


Teucrium 'Summer Sunshine.' I bought this unusual teucrium for its golden foliage and in that regard it hasn't disappointed. But today I noticed little dark red dots and sure enough there are unopened flower buds all along the stems. Very cool. Can't wait to see them open.


I wasn't going to take another photo of my Felicia amelloides (Blue daisy) but then this black bumblebee came calling and I couldn't resist.


Scabiosa ochroleuca. Not many have heard of this yellow pincushion flower but it has a soft beauty. It doesn't begin flowering until June, but it makes up for the late start by blooming till late fall.


Fuchsia 'Firecracker.' I noticed something interesting this morning with this plant. It has variegated foliage but on the forward most leaf, the left half is entirely green while the right side is entirely a cream color with some red veining. Nature sometimes does funny things.

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